Every business is different, and the best online credit card processing company for you will be different than what’s best for another company. Those differences are because companies have other pricing structures, discounts for volume, and even industry-specific options.
To help you sort through the dozens of options out there, we’ve put together a list of companies offering payment processing for small and medium-sized businesses. Every company on this list is PCI compliant, accepts all major credit card and payment types, and has cost-effective pricing.
5 Best Online Credit Card Processing Companies for 2021
Best for small businesses
Founded in 2009 by Jim McKelvey and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square is a pioneer in the world of mobile online credit card processing. You’ve definitely seen Square before — the little white, square-shaped plug-in reader. It’s used by small business owners, those who need a way to take mobile payments, and as a point-of-sale provider.
Square is highly portable, and you’ll receive a free magstripe reader when you activate your account. They also have additional hardware choices, including a contactless and chip reader and a dual-screen register.
One of the reasons square is one of the best online credit card processing companies for small businesses is because they don’t charge monthly fees, and you can cancel at any time. So it’s a more approachable option if you’re not ready for a monthly subscription.
Square also doesn’t have any chargeback fees, it comes with free POS software, and the mobile card reader is free. Square also has clear flat-rate pricing based on the type of transaction.
Here are Square’s credit card processing fees:
- Swiped or chipped transactions: 2.6% + 10¢
- Keyed (card-not-present) transactions: 3.5% + 15¢
- Online transaction: 2.9% + 30¢
Those rates are for businesses doing $250,000 or less per year, and Square has custom pricing after that. Packages are determined by payment volume, average transaction size, history as a Square seller, and more. Rates can be more than that 2.6% + 10¢ rate above.
Square has easy-to-add pricing for customer loyalty accounts, gift cards, payroll, and email marketing.
Square pros & cons:
Best high-volume pricing
Helcim is known as one of the best online credit card processing companies for small businesses for a number of reasons, and one of the biggest is that they have incredibly transparent pricing. In addition, they offer full-service merchant services, which means they will likely have tools no matter how you process payments or manage your business.
Helcim doesn’t charge monthly fees, and they charge processing fees using an interchange-plus structure. Interchange fees are what card networks charge merchants for processing debit and credit card payments. Each network charges its own rates, and those vary even more based on the kind of card. For example, rewards credit cards typically charge merchants the highest rates.
Instead of flat rates, Helcim charges you the interchange fee plus their own fee. So what you pay per transaction varies based on the card. So sometimes you’ll pay a little more and sometimes less.
Helcim determines your interchange plus fees based on monthly volume, average transaction, and business type. Below is their fee table for retail businesses:
Depending on your business, you may need to purchase hardware to process payments. Helcim has a card reader for $199 and a thermal printer for $79.
Helcim pros & cons:
Helcim is the best for high-volume pricing
Helcim doesn’t charge monthly subscription fees, and they automatically apply volume discounts based on your last three months’ sales volume.Learn about Helcim
Best for online payments
Stripe is a solid choice for online credit card processing because there are no monthly fees and transparent, flat-rate pricing. They’re also willing to work with high-volume businesses by offering discounts and custom pricing.
Depending on your business needs, you can purchase certified third-party processing equipment through Stripe, ranging from $59 to $249. Stripe’s services also easily integrate with programs like QuickBooks and MailChimp. But they do offer their own invoicing, fraud, analytics products, and more.
Companies processing over $1000,000 will need to contact Stripe for custom pricing, but below are their rates for company processing under that amount:
- Credit cards and digital wallets: 2.9% + 30¢
- International credit cards: 3.9% + 1%
- Bank debits and transfers: 0.8% ($5.00 cap)
- International payment methods: Starting at 80¢
One of Stripe’s benefits is that they take so many different forms of online payment, which is a serious perk for some businesses. You can also opt-in for Stripe Instant Payouts, which is where Strip instantly transfers money to your debit card. It’s an additional 1% with a minimum 50¢ fee.
Stripe pros & cons
Need a company that accepts mobile wallet payments?
Stripe is one of the best for online payments because it accepts all mobile wallet payment types, they also don’t charge monthly subscription fees.Check out Stripe
4. Stax by Fattmerchant
Best all-in-one credit card processing
Stax by Fattmerchant is an all-in-one platform with subscription-based pricing. An interesting fact about the business: Fattmerchant is an acronym for Fast Affordable Transaction Technology.
For small business owners, there are three pricing tiers to choose from, and each includes a variety of integrated services.
Free terminal or mobile reader
Recurring invoices and scheduled payments
Text2Pay Mobile payment
Automatic updates for stored credit cards
Free surcharging capabilities
Website-hosted payment links
One-click shopping card set-up with catalog management
Lite dashboard and analytics
Securely store customer credit cards on file
Advanced dashboard and reporting
Quick payment/backup processing
Accounting reconciliation Lite Sync (Including QuickBooks)
API key integration capabilities
Dedicated account manager
Enhanced dashboards and reporting
In addition to those monthly fees, Stax charges interchange plus processing fees:
- In-person payments: Interchange plus 8¢
- Keyed-in payments: Interchange plus 15¢
Stax is one of the best online credit card processing companies for high-volume businesses that want lots of features. You can see that through what they offer with each pricing tier and the fact they don’t charge a percentage on top of their interchange fees
Stax by Fattmerchant pros & cons
5. National Processing
Best for industry-specific pricing
National Processing has been around since 2007 and is one of the better online credit card processing companies for small businesses with its budget-friendly pricing. National Processing keeps its fees low by offering basic processing services based on the type of business you run, so you’re only paying for the kinds of services you really need.
They also use interchange-plus pricing like some other companies on this list, so keep that in mind as you look over their pricing.
Below are National Processing industry-specific plans and pricing:
- Restaurant: $9.95/month, plus 0.14% + 7¢
- Retail: $9.95/month, plus 0.18% + 10¢
- eCommerce: $9.95/month, plus .29% + 15¢
- Cash discount: $39.95/month, plus 0% + 0¢
- Subscription: $59/month, plus 0% + 9¢
- Subscription Plus: $199/month, plus 0% + 5¢
All of their plans come with a free reprogram of existing equipment, free gateway setup, and a free mobile card reader. Higher-level plans include free terminals and pin pads. They also promise that they will beat your current rates or pay you $500 (only available to businesses with at least $10,000 in payments per month).
National Processing is also willing to work with high-risk businesses. Again, this is a somewhat arbitrary term that’s applied to businesses that have a perceived greater risk of financial failure.
National Processing pros & cons
National Processing has industry-specific pricing
Pay fees based on the type of business you run, and National Processing is also willing to work with high-risk businesses.Check out National Processing
How to choose the best online credit card processing for your business
There are dozens and dozens of different credit card processing companies, and to help you find the best one for your business, we had some basic requirements set up for our research.
- Must accept all major credit card types
- Must be PCI compliant (this is a security standard)
- Must have cost-effective pricing
All of the companies on this list meet those standards, but the way cost of credit card processing works for your business will depend a lot on your transaction volume, type of business, and if you need hardware.
When you’re choosing a credit card processing company, pay attention to those factors. Interchange-plus pricing is generally lower, but it’s confusing for some and you won’t always know how much you’re paying.
You can keep your costs low by looking for a company that has low fees overall, like no setup fees, chargeback fees, refund fees, etc.
This very much depends on the type of business you run and transaction volume. Based on our research, we’ve found the best for the following categories:
- Best for online payments: Stripe
- Best for small businesses: Square
- Best for industry-specific pricing: National Processing
- Best all-in-one credit card processing: Stax
- Best high-volume pricing
Interchange-plus pricing is typically less expensive, but it can be difficult to understand. You should also look for PCI-compliant companies because you’re less likely to deal with fraudulent transactions. Companies that offer high-volume discounts are cheaper if you’re processing lots of transactions on a daily basis.